Jan 21, 2010

What happens if you call 117?

If the US has 911, we Filipinos have 117.

Well, it is supposed to be 911 in the Philippines. But this much I can tell you right now:

Don't waste your time calling 117.


Well, since I have never heard of anybody calling 117 before, it didn't have a track record that I knew about.

Now this Filipino mom didn't want to be surprised when a real emergency is already happening, I decided to do something that would be against the law in other countries: I called the Filipino emergency number, even without an emergency, to find out what kind of service Filipino moms could expect.

Here's what happened:

No answer

So I dialled 117. Then I waited for the phone to ring. I waited for five seconds, the amount of time a mother with a choking baby would be willing to wait before an operator answered.

The phone still didn't ring.

So I started counting seconds: "One ... two ... three ..."

I had reached "twenty-four" when I got the busy signal. Call did not go through.

Fortunately, I had no emergency, so I decided to try again: Dial. Wait. Count. "Twenty-one, twenty-two, twenty-three ... beep, beep, beep ..."

I hung up. I don't know what made me give it a third chance -- if I had a real choking/snake bite/poisoning/bleeding emergency, the victim would be blue and in really grave danger by now.

But I dialled again. This time, after one ring, somebody picked up. Third time's a charm.

No resources

It was a very polite police officer who answered: "Good morning. Ano pong emergency natin? (What's your emergency)?" he asked.

I stammered that I didn't have an emergency, and is it okay if I just want to know what I can expect if I had an emergency like choking or poisoning or snake bite?

He said, still very politely, "Ma'am, police station po kasi ito eh. (You see, ma'am, this is a police station.)"

Ah! So the emergencies they are expecting are of the criminal sort! I will remember that when my bag gets snatched by a particularly slow-moving robber ...

ME: So paano po kapag medical yung emergency? (So what happens if my emergency is a medical one?)

OFFICER: Itatawag po namin sa Red Cross sa area ninyo. (We will call the Red Cross in your area.)

ME: I see. Okay. Thank you po. [hangs up]

Waste of time

To be fair, Mr. Policeman was very polite and willing to give all the help he can give right to the end.

It's just sad that the resources he had for helping were -- well, practically non-existent.

So after this conversation, I said to myself, if Mr. Police Officer needs to call Red Cross to help me with my medical emergency, it might be faster if I call Red Cross myself.


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